A month ago, the Philadelphia Phillies hoped that their bullpen, which had been decimated by injuries in the first-half of the 2019 season, would get healthy in time for the stretch run of the 2019 season. So far, that plan isn’t playing out especially well.
Tuesday, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told the collective media, which included Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, that reliever Tommy Hunter had surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his throwing arm. While Kapler noted that Hunter didn’t have damage to his UCL – which likely would have led to him having Tommy John Surgery – flexor tendon surgery will very likely end his time as a Phillie. Kapler didn’t come out and say that Hunter’s 2019 season is over, but following this surgery, it’s hard to imagine Hunter will pitch again this year.
Hunter is in the second year of a two-year/$18 million free-agent contract. If he’s pitched his last game as a Phillie, his tenure with the team will go down as a disappointing one. After a career-best season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017, Hunter posted a 3.80 ERA and 3.63 FIP in 65 games in 2018, his first season as a Phillie. In 2019, he has a 0.00 ERA, but has only made five appearances at the major league level because a right forearm strain kept him out until late June.
As mentioned at the outset of this piece, Hunter is part of a group of veteran relievers that have been unavailable for large portions of the 2019 season. Pat Neshek has been on the injured list two separate times, first with rotator cuff inflammation and currently with a left hamstring strain. Though a return may not be far off for David Robertson, he hasn’t pitched since mid April because of a right elbow injury. Edubray Ramos is currently on the injured list with a right shoulder injury, and Adam Morgan and Juan Nicasio have both had injured list stints this season as well.
In addition to the veteran relievers that have dealt with injuries, Victor Arano, one of the team’s best relievers in 2018, is likely out for the season after having his right elbow scoped in late May. After a rookie season that was dominant at times, Seranthony Dominguez had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow in mid-June. The thought then was that this was a positive development that would allow him to avoid Tommy John Surgery and return in 2019. And that may still happen, but the only recent development on Dominguez is that he was transferred to the 60-day injured list last weekend.
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